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Posts Tagged ‘fall’

Happy Halloween! The final harvest is upon us. We woke to our first frost this morning, glad to cross picking peppers off our list of things to do. Brad’s milling corn, in red, white, and yellow, and his red and yellow popcorn fill bins, dump trucks and combines, thousands of gleaming pounds of kernels waiting. Hay bales stacked three tall fill the hay barn, calves graze apart from their mamas, and mamas graze fresh fields not yet worn down from their plodding hoofsteps, gestating.

playing in the corn bay

I used to think that all farms always have All The Things that a farm might produce, but in truth this is our first year growing pumpkins of the variety and quantity that I have always coveted. Thanks to the squash bugs our plants produced mere fractions of what we expected from all these varieties, but we did grow several large Lumina pumpkins, and this makes me happy. As none of our Howden pumpkins (the standard “jack-o-lantern” type) made so much as one, all our lanterns this year we carved from Luminas:

This pumpkin has white skin and pale flesh, with size comparable to a typical jack-o-lantern, perhaps rounder, and smoother. We also have a smattering of pie pumpkins.

Lumina pumpkin, carved

pie pumpkins and Luminas

 

Now that frost has struck we can stop wondering what else we’re going to get from the field. Winter wheat now waits in the wings for another rain to ready the fields for planting. Almost back into calving season…

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Rain and damp continue to keep us out of the last seventy-five acres of corn. Nearly forty trucks have come and gone, the fields studded with fractured and moldy stalks to show what grew before.

post harvest

 

The signs were right for weaning recently so we separated the most stressed mamas from their calves, across a fence from each other. This “fence line weaning” reduces stress on both mama and calf. I came home late to hear a great deal of complaining from those fields the day they were separated, but by the next evening all was nearly quiet. We’ve moved herds around and weaned another group while waiting for the corn to dry out again.

newly weaned calf

 

With drought damaging the grass over the summer, we started using hay a good bit earlier this year. The Bermuda patch is all baled up and ready for the shed.

bermuda bales

A cold front came through yesterday, making it finally feel like October. We loaded another truck this morning and hope to finish picking here soon, so the harvesters can go start picking on the family farm down the road. Then it’s fence repairs, picking beans, and waiting for calving to begin in a few months…

 

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One Less Rooster Soup

It’s what was for dinner… all our currently mature birds were raised for meat and are long overdue for butchering. The most aggressive, a Dominicker who had chased and pecked at the five-year-old, attacked the three-year-old and secured his appointment with the machete. Soup or stew is about all these birds are good for, as we’ve let them get too old and tough for much else, but the soup is delicious and deeply nourishing. Sea salt, vinegar, onion, garlic, peppers, potatoes, a bit of basil, and a long simmer. Yum.

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This farm lies along the Coosawattee River floodplain. Cultures have resided right here by this river for over ten thousand years, and archaeological sites are fenced off or otherwise indicated in several places on this particular piece of land. What isn’t marked on any map are the sinkholes that punctuate the periphery of some of the fields. My father-in-law came to a stop in one of the combines, on what appeared to be solid ground, only to have that ground fall out from under one side a few minutes later. Looking beneath the harvester a six-foot-deep cavern had revealed itself. We had to borrow a backhoe to dig it out the next day.

Nonetheless, picking and trucking continues. We’ve filled over twenty-five trucks so far and are about two-thirds finished here. If the weather holds we’ll soon be done here, the equipment will move on to our other fields, and the field road dust can settle once again.

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Summer ends. We are grateful now that the tomatoes are spent and that we have corn to harvest. Fourteen truckloads have lumbered out from the first hundred or so acres, filled to bursting with a thousand golden bushels each. The next field picked won’t have nearly as much yield, Brad expects, but it will still be worth picking, and with 150 acres remaining to harvest here we will meet our contracts and continue on. We know we are lucky this year.

filling a truck

The severe weather laid waste to much of my canning plans, but we did manage fourteen quarts of green beans and around seventy quarts of tomatoes, sauce, and salsa.

green beans

Battles with squash bugs largely lost, we hope to make enough butternuts and spaghetti squash to eat, but it is as yet to early to tell. For now Brad focuses on harvesting and the seasonally requisite mechanical work, as one combine loses a wheel, the other overheats… I focus on homeschooling and keeping the hearth tended, enjoying the turning of the year, my youngest turning three, and the shifting from outward to inward as the work load lightens and gardening projects wind down. At the Equinox, may we all find balance, and for those who celebrate, happy new year!

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